Take care if you have to burn plastic silage wrap
As we approach the end of winter, farmers who’ve been busy feeding silage or bailage the past few months will usually have a good amount of silage wrap to dispose of.
Silage wrap is made of low density polyethylene, a plastic which is readily recyclable.
In addition to recycling there have been two other options for farmers – burn or bury.
These two options – used frequently before modern recycling schemes – are now best avoided given the opportunity to recycle. Recycling silage wrap means that the energy used to create it is not lost.
It can be recycled into new products such as Tuff Board for use elsewhere on the farm.
Recycling also helps avoid environmental and stock health risks.
The Plasback and Agrecovery silage wrap recycling programmes provide responsible solutions for the disposal of used silage wrap.
Both Plasback and Agrecovery will pick up from your farm and will also take your agrichemical containers (rinsed), bale net, pit covers and feed bags.
For more information, and to see which option suits, check out plasback.co.nz (free phone 0508 338 240) or agrecovery.co.nz (free phone 0800 AGRECOVERY).
While we generally prefer recycling, we acknowledge that burning and burying of silage wrap are not prohibited under the regional plan.
Burning is permitted as burning of non- halogenated plastics such as silage wrap does not pose the same health risk that burning other types of plastic creates.
However, it is important to point out that burning large quantities of wrap on its own still has the potential to produce lots of smoke that is not good for our health.
If burning is the only option, then it is important to burn only small quantities of wrap with dry green waste well away from neighbours to ensure that nuisance effects of smoke are not created.
If there is no other choice but to burn the silage wrap:
Only burn in combination with dry vegetation – this material will burn faster and more easily.
Don’t burn on frosty mornings, foggy days or at night.
Burn as far away from property boundaries as possible.
Burn in small amounts rather than one large amount.
Only burn waste when there is enough wind to dissipate the smoke quickly. Be aware of wind direction. Above all, take all precautions to avoid any risk of the fire spreading.
When burning wrap, it is very important to ensure that the fire is very hot to reduce harmful airborne emissions. Any residue remaining after a fire should be disposed to landfill as it is likely to be contaminated and could pose a risk to stock or waterways.
While on-farm burial of silage wrap is also allowed under the regional plan, stock deaths have occurred when it has been eaten after being uncovered.
Disposal at an authorised landfill has less potential impact on stock and the environment and will also not restrict the existing and foreseeable land use.
Farmers wishing to bury silage wraps, either on their farm or at a public landfill, should first compress the wraps into as small a package as possible to help it stay in place.